November 16, 2003 - Yesterday at least 23 people were killed and over 300 wounded when two truck bombs exploded outside two synagogues in Istanbul, Turkey. It happened on the Jewish sabbath, while the synagogues were packed with family members who came for bar mitzvah celebrations.
This was not the first time the Neve Shalom ("Oasis of Peace") synagogue was attacked. In 1986 Palestinian gunmen killed 22 worshipers and wounded six more during a Sabbath service.
A Turkish group of Islamic extremists, the Great Eastern Islamic Raiders' Front, claimed responsibility for the Istanbul attacks, but Al Qaeda involvement is also suspected.
On the same day arsonists broke into a ground floor window of a Jewish school in a suburb of Paris and set a fire that destroyed the building. Over the past several years, as anti-Israel feeling has increased over the world and especially in Europe, anti-Semitic incidents have skyrocketed. (This has been extensively documented. See for example the report of the Helsinki Commission, also included in the list of sources below.)
Incidents like these give the lie to the claim that it is easy to separate anti-Zionism from anti-Semitism. More often than not the two are found together, and the association is only becoming stronger.
One reason for this development is cynical political calculation. Anti-Zionism/anti-Semitism seems to have the power to unify the Arab world - and much of the Muslim world as well - as no other issue can. And now it seems anti-Semitism is being used to unite Europeans in their quest to supplant America as the world's most influential political power. Undermine Israel, America's major Middle Eastern client, and you undermine America as well.
But underneath the politics lies the ancient cynical hatred of the Jew that is unfortunately part of Europe's legacy to the world, a legacy that has supplied the Arabs with plenty of material for their own organized attack against the Jewish people. This anti-Jewish feeling tries to legitimize itself by calling itself "anti-Zionism," but anti-Zionism is far more than criticism of Israel. Anyone can criticize Israel, Zionist or not. But a term like "anti-Americanism" generally means opposition to America's policies, not support for America's literal and total elimination. "Anti-Zionism," on the other hand, means denial of Israel's very legitimacy and right to exist as a Jewish state.
The anti-Zionist opposes Jewish self-determination and would dismantle Israel and put its Jewish population at the mercy of the Arab world, where hatred of Jews is so deeply embedded it may be impossible to eradicate. Anti-Zionism is thus by its very nature - practically by definition - anti-Semitic. The word "Zionist" should now almost always be placed in quotation marks, because more and more it is becoming a code word for "Jew." "Anti-Zionism" has made anti-Semitism acceptable.
Today the ancient hatred of the Jew has taken a bizarre turn. Jews are being called Nazis by the very people who still use Nazi propaganda to vilify them. Jews are being called racists by the same people who are trying to drive them out of the Middle East, after they had already been driven out of Europe. Those who display Israeli flags with swastikas replacing the Star of David are the same ones expressing regret that Hitler did not finish the job.
There is ample evidence for this "reversal of values," as yesterday's attacks show. Not just Israelis, not just Zionists, but Jews themselves are now targets. Islamic extremists are waging a war of genocide against Israel and the Jewish people, attacking Jewish civilians all over the world and hoping to expel the Jewish population from what they call "Palestine," which includes all of Israel. There is no other way to describe it. Whatever mistakes Israel has made have little bearing on this war.
I have already admitted that Israel blundered badly with its settlements policy. But this new War Against the Jews began before the first settlement was built, and would continue after the last settlement is dismantled. And it seems this war is once again being carried out with the collaboration - or at least the acquiescence - of much of Europe, a potentially catastrophic repetition of recent history. A new poll released by the European Commission states that nearly 60% of Europeans consider Israel the greatest threat to world peace, ahead of North Korea, Iran, or Afghanistan. There is no rational explanation for this result, save as a symptom of the old European hatred of the Jew that became dormant for a while after the Holocaust but that has never really died.
Perhaps only this resurgence of anti-Semitism can explain the success of the Palestinian Disinformation Campaign, which has managed to steal the terminology of Nazism and apply it to the Jewish people - even while the Palestinians and Islamic extremists are themselves escalating a war against Jews, civilian as well as soldier, Israeli and non-Israeli alike.
Why should anyone but Jews be concerned? Because anti-Semitism has become a global political strategy, used by America's enemies to demonize Jews and thus isolate America as the one country left in the world that supports Jews. Anti-Semitism is a potent weapon of worldwide terrorism not only against Israel and the Jews, but against America as well. Israel is the front line of the same war that Islamic extremists wish to bring to America's shores. And it will not stop with America, but will rebound on Europe as well. In the past Europe has destroyed itself with its anti-Semitism, and it shows signs of doing so once again.
And so those who cry out at Israel "Nazi" or "apartheid" or "racist" without taking any notice of the blatant anti-Jewish racism of this renewed War Against the Jews can only be considered guilty of anti-Semitism themselves. Their one-sided condemnations and demonizations go beyond any legitimate criticism of Israel and indeed beyond all rational discourse. They come from the deep, hysterical, anti-rational place in the soul of the anti-Semite that has existed since ancient times.
Just one example among thousands that could be given should suffice to illustrate just how thin the line is between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism - so thin that it is often invisible. The following comes from a Friday sermon broadcast live on official Palestinian Authority television:
None of the Jews refrain from committing any possible evil. If the Labor party commits the evil and the crime, the Likud party stands by it; and if the Likud party commits the evil and the crime, the Labor party stands by it.... The Jews are Jews, whether Labor or Likud... They do not have any moderates or any advocates of peace. They are all liars. They all want to distort truth, but we are in possession of the truth....
Even if an agreement of Gaza is signed - we shall not forget Haifa, and Acre, and the Galilee, and Jaffa, and the Triangle and the Negev, and the rest of our cities and villages. It is only a matter of time....
Have no mercy on the Jews, no matter where they are, in any country. Fight them, wherever you are. Wherever you meet them, kill them. Wherever you are, kill those Jews and those Americans who are like them....
Allah, deal with the Jews, your enemies and the enemies of Islam. Deal with the crusaders, and America, and Europe behind them, O Lord of the worlds.
Criticism of Israel can certainly be valid and is often justified. But criticizing Israel does not make one an anti-Zionist, any more than it makes one an anti-Semite. Anti-Zionism would remove the protection of Israel from its Jewish citizens, leaving them exposed and vulnerable in a world in which sentiments like the above are commonplace. Anti-Zionism has therefore become the ideology of the modern anti-Semite, and the strident, virulent hatred with which anti-Zionism is usually expressed provides only more evidence of its deeper, fundamentally racist agenda.
"No matter where they are, in any country. Fight them... kill them.... Deal with the crusaders, and America, and Europe behind them." First it will be the Jews in Israel, then the Jews everywhere else, then America and then Europe. Anti-Semitism is not an exclusively Jewish problem, no more than it was during the first Nazi era.
Anti-Semitism is not just a Jewish problem. As history has shown before and will show again, it imperils all of us.
Update, November 20, 2003: Today two more truck bombs in Istanbul demolished the British consulate and the headquarters of a British bank. At least 27 were killed and 450 wounded. Al Qaeda and a Turkish group, the Islamic Front of the Raiders of the Great Orient, claimed joint responsibility for these bombings as well as the two synagogue bombings last Saturday. In all these bombings, which took place during the holy month of Ramadan, more Muslims died than either Christians or Jews.
There is now evidence that Al Qaeda is training leaders of local terrorist groups in countries around the world. The targets are not only Jews but Westerners in general and even moderate Muslims. To further their revolutionary agenda, Islamic extremists want to intimidate those Muslims who disagree with them, making sure their brand of religion will stand unopposed. This violent revolution may start with the Jews, but it will not end with the Jews. Israel could disappear tomorrow, but the terrorism would continue.
It is time the world placed the responsibility for terrorism where it belongs.
Abu Halabiya, Dr. Ahmad. "Friday Sermon in the Zayed bin Sultan Aal Nahyan Mosque in Gaza." Middle East Media Research Institute, Special Dispatch Series No. 138, October 13, 2000.
Arsu, Sebnem and Dexter Filkins. "20 in Turkey Killed by 2 Truck Bombs Outside Synagogues." New York Times, November 15, 2003.
CNN News Staff. "Video Clues to Turkey Bombers." cnn.com, November 16, 2003.
"Escalating Anti-Semitic Violence in Europe." Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (United States Helsinki Commission), May 22, 2002.
Farah, Douglas and Peter Finn. "Terrorism, Inc.: Al Qaeda Franchises Brand of Violence to Groups Across World." Washington Post, November 21, 2003.
Fuller, Thomas. "European Poll Calls Israel a Big Threat to World Peace." International Herald Tribune, October 31, 2002.
Smith, Craig S. "Blasts Hit Two British Sites in Turkey as Bush Visits Blair." New York Times, November 21, 2003.
Zlotowski, Michel. "Arsonists Torch Jewish School Near Paris." Jerusalem Post, November 15, 2003.
Peace with Realism